Fantasia 2022 Wrap Up: Deadstream, Dark Glasses, and More

Images courtesy of the Fantasia International Film Festival

It has been my honor over the past few weeks to watch and review many of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival’s spectacular selections, but we are at the end of the road. It has been an incredible three weeks of captivating and challenging films filled with creativity and oozing with conversation-starting moments. If you’ve been wondering about some of the top ten movies I mentioned I was looking forward to that you never saw a full feature on, well, look no further.

We don’t want to spoil these films for audiences by dissecting them or over-analyzing them before they’re out. So, below are brief descriptions and analyses of Deadstream, Vesper, Huesera, The Artifice Girl, and Dark Glasses. And, since we’re wrapping up the festival, please find links to all of the horror films we saw at this year’s Fantasia Festival. Hopefully, you’ll be able to start planning your spooky season film slate now. 


A demon picking an unconscious man's nose in Deadstream
Image Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

When I first read the synopsis to Deadstream, it immediately made me think of Travis Bible’s short film #chadgetstheaxe. The biggest difference in Joseph and Vanessa Winter’s setup is that we’re dealing with a haunted house instead of a slasher story. My point is everyone seems to be getting in on influencer horror lately, and very few have real success with it. I think the entertainment industry loves taking an easily hateable target, creating a vapid persona for them, and thinks that by offing them, we’ll immediately find joy in the film after waiting ninety minutes for their execution.  

When I started Deadstream, I got a little bummed out because that’s what it felt like I was getting. After a half hour, I nearly quit. The story of Shawn (Joseph Winter) trying to bounce back after a stunt on his streaming channel goes wrong sounds like redemption on paper, but as we learn he’s heading into another stunt in a haunted house, it plays like desperation. Shawn is arrogant, oblivious, and generally annoying. So how did this become one of my absolute favorite experiences of Fantasia? 

The Winter’s Deadstream takes a little bit to get into, but it does turn out to be a fun and uproarious time. Shawn is easily loathsome, but the creative script choices, imaginative monsters, and gross-out humor help the film grow on you. If Ash Williams had filmed and provided commentary during his experience in the cabin during Evil Dead 2, you’d get Deadstream 

The Winters were also announced to have a segment in Shudder’s newly announced V/H/S/99, streaming in October. Deadstream will also stream exclusively on the service. A date of release has yet to be provided. 

The Artifice Girl 

Gareth's glasses reflect the look of Cherry in The Artifice Girl
Image Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

AI is always a unique avenue for horror, so I decided to check out The Artifice Girl to see what our future robot overlords might be capable of. I found a very poignant science fiction drama instead and an engaging look at human behavior as seen through the evolution of a crime-fighting AI.

Built to lure pedophiles, Cherry (Tatum Matthews) looks, sounds, and responds in real-time like any teenage girl, but her creator Gareth (Franklin Ritch), is the brainchild behind the ones and zeros. Brought in for questioning, Gareth owns up to using Cherry for vigilantism, and the program is quickly integrated as a tool used to catch online predators. But When Cherry begins to achieve actual cognizance and emotional depth, finding enjoyment in art, questions about the implications of Cherry’s power and her oppression become ethical dilemmas.  

The Artifice Girl was an absorbing surprise. It isn’t the kind of visual stunner as Steven Spielberg’s A.I. was but moves along similar points and delivers them more clearly than Spielberg’s 2001 feature. The movie, written almost like a stage play, uses minimal space and only a handful of characters to tell its story. The first two acts are performed exceptionally well, drawing the viewer into nerve-shattering situations from different eras of Cherry’s development. However, the third act overdramatizes the film slightly, elongating the film but ultimately granting satisfaction. Add in an older Gareth as played by Aliens’ robot Lance Hendricksen and there’s some amusing irony at play. 

The Artifice Girl is a philosophical drama, set up like Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs movie, meant to provide a viewpoint from the machines we control. It’s thoroughly thoughtful and engaging. You never know when Siri, Alexa, or Watson will go ballistic, so perhaps we should be nice to them now.  

IMDB currently has The Artifice Girl slated for a US release in 2023.  


A woman walks through a hexagonal tunnel in Huesera
Image courtesy of the Fantasia International Film Festival

After witnessing the power of Kang Park’s Seire at the festival, Huesera felt like a similar story, but from a different perspective and with a substantial social problem at its core. Michelle Garza Cervera transports us to Mexico and invites the viewer to see what pregnancy might be like for someone following traditional values. Valeria (Natalia Solián) seems happy when we meet her in the film, excited for motherhood with her husband Raúl (Alfonso Dosal). Complications begin to arise when she starts seeing ghastly visions of a bone-breaking demon. 

Huesera is a really dark look at subjugation in Mexico and the divine authority of cultural religious beliefs. Much of the movie concerns Valeria as two separate people, the person she is and the persona she’s portraying for the benefit of her family. In Fight Club, Tyler Durden tells “Jack” that after high school, he called his dad and asked him what to do next, and after he completed college, he asked again. Valeria is running these same beats, using her sister as a template for what her parents consider successful but never allowing herself to be who she really is, and now, with a baby on the way, she’s even more limited. 

The movie has a heavy LGBTQ presence and subtly argues for safe abortions, making it feel like an exceptionally apt movie at the moment. LGBTQ rights have been established in Mexico since 2014, but in 2019 the LGBTQ community saw its highest rise in violence. Abortion rights were finally legalized in 2020, but many states are still seeking to overturn the ruling. The abortion rate is high in Mexico, with as many as 880,000 women seeking an abortion annually between the ages of fifteen and forty-four, according to a 2008 study outlined in Diego Cevallos’ article. In 2009, 159,000 women were rushed to the hospital for complications from seeking unsafe means to carry out illegal abortions. 

Cervera has made a terrifying film about unacceptance and personal choice that really gnaws in the pit of your stomach for more reasons than just the unsettling images of bone protrusions and cheap scares. It’s fantastically nuanced and brazenly intimate, bold filmmaking filled with subversive imagery. This is horror moviemaking at its absolute finest, scaring you with sociological impetus. 

XYZ Films lists Huesera as coming soon. 


Vesper and a floating robot travel the swampy woods
Image Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

What will society do when the soil dries up, water becomes scarce, and seeds that can sustain these conditions are monetized? Get real smart, real f*cking quick. Bio-engineering and foraging become the challenges This is the dystopia we’re treated to in Vesper 

Vesper (Rafiella Chapman) is a thirteen-year-old girl and the titular subject of the film. She scavenges to survive and performs bio-hacking experiments, all while staying out of the line of sight of other factions that may be willing to do her and her father (Richard Brake) harm. Vesper dreams of a life in the citadel, a rich version of The Hunger Games District 1 that favors scientific minds and uses them to create wealth. When a vehicle crashes in Vesper’s backyard, she takes the passenger (Rosy McEwen) in hopes of earning her trust in getting into the citadel, but there are many unscrupulous forces at play, like that of her kingpin uncle (Eddie Marsan), who controls everything in the territory. 

The world of Vesper is extremely unique, with utterly brilliant cinematography, production design, and art design throughout. It’s a marvel of the imagination to behold some of the gadgetry, and bio-life writers Kristina Buozyte, Brian Clark, and Bruno Samper have invented. However, not everything is always made abundantly clear in how these things work in this sci-fi world or why some of the creations we’re looking at are necessary to Vesper’s way of life, and it leaves the viewer with an acceptability factor to overcome. Furthermore, and this is with many indie science fiction thrillers, scenes are overly drawn out, sometimes with long pauses between dialogue.  

I feel that Vesper will be a love it and hate it film. I myself thought it could have clipped at a brisker pace, but I really adored the world-building, though it sometimes came with unanswered questions. It’s extremely pretty, but it can feel a little dull between the action sequences. 

Vesper comes to theaters and VOD on September 30 

Dark Glasses 

A woman sits on the edge of a bed wearing Dark Glasses
Image Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

I had really high hopes for Dario Argento’s return to giallo filmmaking, but Dark Glasses really took me by surprise, and not in an affable way. After an impressive opening of eclipses and brutality, the movie moves into its narrative seamlessly, telling the story of high-end sex worker Diana (Illenia Pastorelli), who, for whoever needs to hear this, loves her job. After a run-in with a vicious murderer who targets the people in her industry, a horrific car crash leaves Diana blinded and the parents of a young boy, Chin (Andrea Zhang), dead in the colliding vehicle. With the help of Rita (Asia Argento), Diana is able to get to a place where she begins to get comfortable without her sense of sight, while Diana and Chin begin developing a strong bond over the shared trauma of the tragic event. Things twist when accounts of the white van that caused the incident begin plaguing Diana.

With many horror maestros returning to the subgenres that define them lately, I expected a lot more from Argento’s film. As we get a sense of our characters and their motivations, there’s noticeably little depth. And while the film begins with a grisly death scene and an absolutely incredible car crash sequence, from there it loses all of its momentum, feeling like a slog by the halfway point. The plot is stretched about as thin as it will go, and there’s no shock for the audience when the killer reveals themself. The only time I squirmed even a little was during a scene with snakes. I know fans of Argento are going to be excited to check out Dark Glasses, but I implore them to keep their expectations a needle above Dracula 3D.  

Dark Glasses was acquired by Shudder earlier this year and is expected to have a fall release.  


Check out our coverage for films that played Fantasia 2022 below: 

Benny and Roscoe put worms in their mouths at the beach in All JAcked Up and Full of Worms
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms – NEW FLESH COMPETITION FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE – Special Mention – Director Alex Phillips

The Breach

Cult Hero

Dark Nature


The Harbinger




Martha looks over her shoulder in Megalomaniac
Megalomaniac | Image Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

MegalomaniacWINNER – CHEVAL NOIR COMPETITION – Best Feature, Outstanding Performance (Eline Schumacher)


Next Exit





Speak No Evil


The Witch 2: The Other One

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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